Fifth Child Immigrant Dies In U.S. Custody Since December
A 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died in U.S. custody on Monday, Customs and Border Protection announced.
The boy, whose identity was not yet made public, was taken into custody on May 13, near Hidalgo, Texas. He was later transferred to Weslaco Border Patrol Station on Sunday, where he was set to be put within a program that resettles children asylum seekers who are found unaccompanied by adults.
Federal law requires migrant children who are taken into custody without their parents to be placed in the Department of Health and Human Services’ care within 72 hours of being determined an unaccompanied minor, according to reporting from the New York Times. The boy’s death came about a week after he was detained.
The cause of death at this time is unknown. The boy was found unresponsive Monday morning, CNN reported.
This is the fifth death of a migrant child in U.S. custody since December, and the third such death in the past 30 days. Last week, a 2-year-old child, also from Guatemala, died in a hospital in El Paso, Texas, due to complications from pneumonia. Another 16-year-old migrant teen also died in Texas late in April. The cause of that individual’s death is not yet known.
The most recent death from Monday is currently being investigated by CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The government of Guatemala has also been alerted to the boy’s death, NBC News reported.
The teen was due to be placed within the Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees the relocation of unaccompanied or separated migrant children who cross the U.S. border.
All of the children who have died in U.S. custody over the past six months have been from Guatemala. Many of that nation’s residents are fleeing due to a myriad of conditions, including drought, food shortages, violence, and dire economic conditions.